The exciting day had finally came. From Taipei Main Station we took train to Changhua, then transferred to Ershui then Shuili. From Shuili, Ms Chen and Jerry pick us up. Ms. Chen is the research associate from NTU Experimental Forest and responsible for Heshe internship while Jerry is the one who will assist us during our internship at Heshe.
Along the way to Heshe, we stopped at a café for discussion with Ms. Chen about what we are going to do during our internship. In general, they expect both, intern and organizer get benefits. So, while enjoying the beauty of Taiwan, they expect us to helps local aboriginal tribes and promote eco-tourism in Taiwan. The interesting thing is that they let us to decide day-to-day activities during 4-weeks internship.
After arriving at Heshe office, Jerry showed us the room. I was surprise because the room is quite good and it has fast WIFI, especially when we compare it with dormitory that we stayed during orientation. Then, Jerry let us unpack and rest a bit before inviting us to meet the director of Heshe Forest Education Area and take us for Heshe tour. In the evening, Jerry invited us for dinner with his office colleagues in nearby food store.
In the following day, we went to Dongpu area which is 30 minutes away from Heshe. This place is famous with its waterfalls and hotspring. Nevertheless, the first destination in our trip was the suspension bridge. Jerry dropped us at the gate of the short trail then we walked down to the suspension bridge.
After walking for about 10 minutes, we finally found the suspension bridge. We were very excited to cross the bridge but a small store next to the bridge which sell honey attracted us. Then, we came to the seller who is an old man. He explained a lot of things but in Chinese and luckily, we had Yu Ting who translated it for us. Philip finally decided to buy one which costs NTD 500 (price was reduced from NTD 600) after trying the samples that he gave us.
From the first suspension bridge, we walked to the hiking trails to Dongpu waterfalls. Along the way to hiking trails, there are a lot of hot spring resorts. At that time, we did not have chance to try the hot spring but we may try it later.
We needed 40 minutes to walk up to the waterfalls, including picture taking which is supposed to take a lot of time. Along the way, we found another suspension bridge. And from that suspension bridge we can see a small waterfall. Unfortunately, we didn’t find a way to go there. Not far from the suspension bridge, we found another small waterfall, which is called couple waterfall. And shortly, we arrived at the final waterfall, called rainbow waterfall, which is the biggest one. We want to go to swim but it is not allowed to do so. Because the stream was too dangerous. In total, we found 4 waterfalls through the hiking trails.
In the afternoon, Jerry introduced us to Bali, who is the tour guide for Wangxiang aboriginal village. Then Bali invited us for a short tour in the village. In every house, they have a board made of stone with a short story about the family written on it. In some houses we found similar name which means they come from the same ancestor.
Bali also took us to see the church which is the main religious place for this tribe. This place also has library for children to study. Wangxiang tribe also has community activity center for ritual or cultural performance. After harvesting season, they used to have celebration with dance and choir performances. All villagers participate in this activity, from children to elders.
Another interesting thing in this trip is that, we found many similarities between Bunun language (used by Wangxiang villagers), Tagalog (Filipino) and Javanese (used by people in Java island Indonesia). We tried to count from 1 to 10, and found many of them quite are similar.
Can be found here: http://treasuremaptw.org/welcome-to-heshe-dongpu-and-wangxiang-tribe-village/